Drag is a time honored tradition that is not only attributable to the Gay Community but also Olde Tyme Theatre and also adhock shows that were put on in the first and second world wars by servicemen and entertainers as there was a lack of females to fill the roles of women required for the shows.
ChrisShepherd on the other hand just said "Screw It!" one day after he and his partner RogerStoddard? decided to make the move to Toronto in 1982. Chris decided that a laugh was laugh and leaving town was a great time to leave a few smirks on peoples faces.
Chris decided to portray Aretha Franklin's "Think" (The Blues Brothers version) in the upcoming Turret Production "The Show". EmeraldGibson and Chris headed out on the town to get the much needed waitress outfit and wig. Finally getting to the uniform shop in The Lord Nelson Arcade, EmeraldGibson and Chris approached the unwitting saleslady to seal a deal. The polite young woman asked Chris if she could be assistance and Chris replied that "Yes, I need a waitress uniform, please." and the saleslady responded:" And what SIZE?". I am sure that Chris is almost bleeding from the tongue at this point when he said:" MY SIZE!".Chris = 6'5" x 1 uh,2 uh, over my weight. After composing herself, the saleslady wrapped the sale up and I know by her response that she was trying to get her own little dig in when she looked at EmeraldGibson and said:"Will there be anything for you today?". EmeraldGibson struck a pose and replied:"Not today thanks; I already have enough dresses in my closet.".
I must say that even I was not ready for the night of the show, even tho I have already directed quite a few to this point. I glued some plastic pepsi glasses to a server tray so they would not fall off and handed it to Chris and then the announcement came "Ladies and Gentlemen....Miss Aretha Franklin..". The crowd went quiet as the lights dimmed and then when they came up full, here was the biggest, nastiest and funniest Aretha the crowd had ever seen.
The packed room was in stitches as the mad Aretha strutted with her waitress outfit and wool slippers (the kind granny makes) and bad hair day wig with exaggerated lipstick. Aretha was right on the money with her lipsync and dance et al. When the music came to the ending climax, Aretha threw the tray to the floor and it wacked it right at the same moment as the last note of the song. A standing ovation was granted, the most sought after prize of any entertainer.
Chris Shepherd found a little bit of fame in his own right on that nite and I am sure its not the history he had in mind a few years before.
Chris came up the Aretha role at a backyard party at his place on Morris Street (the GayGreyApartmentBuilding is in the background of this pic) one gorgeous Sunday afternoon. We had a lot of food left over from a picnic the day before so we put it to use. He had his sound system set up outside and when he appeared (dressed slightly different this time) adorned with a wig and makeup supplied by Laverne, a housecoat and those woolen slippers; the backyard went nuts. Then we noticed that quite a few of the balconies of neighbouring buildings were full of people watching and laughing and pointing at the backyard antics.
New Years Eve was one of the most special nights of the year at The Turret Club. Preparations for the festivities were done meticulously, the staff and volunteers put their best effort into guaranteeing a gala night.
This New Years Eve, I had the night off and was heading out to The Turret to party and have a good time. I still had to do the odd thing around the place because afterall I was the only one that did maintenance, but for the most part I could still enjoy the evening.
At home I got ready, I ironed my tux and shirt and black tie ( I wore a flat tie as I was never a bow tie kinda guy), shaved real close and showered and prepped my hair to the nines. Around 8pm I was ready to get dressed and head out the door. After getting dressed, I went for my black shoes realizing that I never polished them. I searched everywhere and then remembering that they had worn out and I had replaced them with a pair of OXBLOOD colored shoes. It was too late to do anything about it and I wear size 12 so my roommate Wayne's shoes would not fit. Thinking that the room at the club is going to be really dark and the oxblood was so dark that in the dimlit room no-one would notice.
Arriving at the club, I did my usual hellos at the door and bookstore and then ascended the stairs for my big entrance. Sitting on the rail on the top landing with his feet dangling back down to the second floor was Chris Shepherd ( looking like that guy that had a great fall ). I said hey Chris and there was a loud aaahhhhhhhh and a loud " BROWN SHOES !!! " . I am stunned standing there thinking that he of all people would be the one to notice and proclaim my entrance. My embarrassment lasted for a few moments with some misplaced words. The rest of the nite went on without a catch, with only with a little red on my shoes and a little red on my face.